Pete, now 39, went through exactly this crisis. Just a week shy of his 30th birthday, he left his long-term job, and a woman he still describes as “the love of my life”.

“Looking back, there was just so much loaded into that birthday,” he says. “That little zero adds so much significance. I guess it’s a landmark, a time to take serious stock. I was unhappy and my girlfriend became a totem of that. I’m embarrassed to say it, but she was the easiest thing to change.” Clare, now 28, dated a 29 year old on the same postgrad course six years ago. “It was one of those intense connections,” she says. “All was going A-OK until one morning he said he’d seen a glimpse of his future – and I wasn’t in it. He was the classic Peter Pan guy: I think he genuinely thought he was George Clooney.”

Description: he left his long-term job, and a woman he still describes as “the love of my life”.

he left his long-term job, and a woman he still describes as “the love of my life”.

Last year, Anna, a 29 year old from Manchester, had a similar experience. “I met Mark on match.com and we had so much in common,” she says. “On date four, he asked when he could meet my parents – it was full steam ahead.” That was until date seven, just after Mark’s 29th birthday. “The second I walked in, I could tell there’d been a shift. He told me something awful had happened: he’d found a grey hair. Then he went on a massive rant: ‘I don’t have enough Twitter followers, I need a new job, I’m nearly 30!’ He texted me a few days later telling me he just wanted to focus on him right now.”

Dr Nicole Gehl, a psychotherapist, believes that this overreaction to the physical signs of ageing hints at something more fundamental in play here: the elusive male body clock.

“Primarily, this is a psycho-sociological phenomenon,” she says. “But there are physical factors too. Men are looking in the mirror and these first grey hairs are appearing. It’s harder to lose weight and hangovers are becoming worse. We’re conditioned to have these great expectations for our lives in terms of self-fulfilment, happiness and achievement – and then 30 hits. Men reflect on their decisions and are shocked out of their equilibrium as it becomes clear what trade-offs have been made in the run-up to this point.”

The crucial difference between the sexes, says Dr Gehl, is that women are socialized to talk more openly about their feelings and, as a result, approach their thirties with a far more optimistic, balanced outlook.

“Without that dialogue, the difficult questions, like, ‘What do I want from life?’ or ‘Why am I living like this?’ don’t surface until the balances is disrupted,” she says. In other words, men will happily bottle it all up in the extended adolescence of their twenties – only for the heat of an impending 30th to melt the entire waxwork.

Description: Men are looking in the mirror and these first grey hairs are appearing

Men are looking in the mirror and these first grey hairs are appearing

The latter is an experience Joe, 31, a banker, experienced first-hand. After ten years with his live-in girlfriend, Emma, he ended the relationship after he hit 29. He only confessed the true reason to her four months later: he was gay.

“It was an incredibly upsetting time,” says Joe. “I’d wake up worrying about it and go to bed worrying about it. I was miserable. We were best friends, and we’d had fun all through our twenties, but 29 was a wake-up call. I’d tried all these little things to make us happy, but I knew I’d never be able to give her 100 in terms of marriage, kids and a future. You ignore it and ignore it, until you can’t ignore it any more. The impending certainty of 30 was the catalyst to do something about it.”

Divorce lawyer Richard Collins has witnessed this growing trend. He describes the “harsh reality of responsibility” hitting men in the face at this stage “like a swinging saloon door”. For those already married by 29, it’s often a knockout blow.

“This stage is second only to the early forties in terms of divorce,” he says. “And most of the 42 and 43 year olds can trace back their unhappiness to this point too.”

So what can you do if your other half is 28 and counting? The solution, according to Dr Gehl, is to loosen the reins a little.

“You need to be as tolerant as you can if your partner is going through something like this, remain emotionally strong and realize it is completely normal,” says Dr Gehl. “Ultimately, this is existential anxiety. Be supportive and be a friend, while at the same time keeping your boundaries. And never give an ultimatum unless you’re willing to follow through on it.”

After all, the Catch 29 might not be such a bad thing. As Richard Collins points out, many of those who do weather the storm and stay together will end up unhappily married. It might be a thorny life stage, but the irony of 29 is that it is truly a prime number: both sexes are still at their very peak. Better to discover you’re on the wrong route now than end up breaking down much later, with both of you standing on the hard shoulder waiting for assistance at Junction 42.

Top search
- 6 Ways To Have a Natural Miscarriage
- Foods That Cause Miscarriage
- Losing Weight In A Week With Honey
- Can You Eat Crab Meat During Pregnancy?
- Grape Is Pregnant Women’s Friend
- 4 Kinds Of Fruit That Can Increase Risk Of Miscarriage
- Some Drinks Pregnant Women Should Say No With
- Signs Proving You Have Boy Pregnancy
- Why Do Pregnant Women Have Stomachache When Eating?
- Top Foods That Pregnant Women Should Be Careful Of
- 6 Kinds Of Vegetable That Increase Risk Of Miscarriage
- He's 29? Run! (Part 1)
- "Has Online Dating Ruined Me?"
- The Truth About … Fats
- Nutrition Wise : Just say no to sugar, Upgrade your snack time
- Anxiety Your New Secret Weapon ?
- Bye Bye Boredom
- How To Get An Extra Day’s Holiday
- Sculpt Your Body Slim In Six Weeks
- Health Monitor : Snooze Or Sweat
- Grocery Grab - Say Cheese!
Top keywords
Miscarriage Pregnant Pregnancy Pregnancy day by day Pregnancy week by week Losing Weight Stress Placenta Makeup Collection
Top 5
- 5 Ways to Support Your Baby Development
- 5 Tips for Safe Exercise During Pregnancy
- Four Natural Ways Alternative Medicine Can Help You Get Pregnant (part 2)
- Four Natural Ways Alternative Medicine Can Help You Get Pregnant (part 1)
- Is Your Mental Health Causing You to Gain Weight (part 2) - Bipolar Disorder Associated with Weight Gain